Our Writer's Room pilots with crime writer, Stuart Johnstone, and poet, Alycia Pirmohamed

Keira Brown
Communications Executive
Edinburgh City of Literature Trust

25 April 2024

Writers at all steps of their career applied for the Writer's Room programme, with over 75 responses.

Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature and the Society of Authors in Scotland partnered to pilot a new programme for writers in Edinburgh – Writer’s Room – which offers a writing space with inspiring views of Edinburgh’s Old Town and a £1,000 fee for a two-month programme.

Whether through high-profile campaigns or community-based projects, the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature’s mission is to make Edinburgh a warm and welcoming city, which values literature and its writers, where everyone can be involved in the joy of reading and writing. To celebrate the organisation’s 20th anniversary since UNESCO designation, writers were asked to apply for its exciting new Writer’s Room programme, located on the Royal Mile. Applications closed for this programme in early April 2024.

Recent research led by Literature Alliance Scotland informs that writers/literary freelancers average annual full-time income in Scotland in 2022 was £21,140 – just under the Living Wage with 66% making under £20k. The Writer’s Room is a new paid income programme for writers to help build their career and their portfolio, opening other opportunities. And from the response to this call out, it’s clear that these paid writing opportunities are essential for writers, with over 75 applications from creatives with a variety of disciplines whether poetic, academic, non-fiction or fiction, and from every step of a writer’s career.

With a blind selection process for the pilot and first instalment of the Writer’s Room programme, crime writer Stuart Johnstone and poet Alycia Pirmohamed have accepted posts on the programme, who are delighted to be trailing the project.

Stuart Johnstone

Stuart predominantly writes crime novels with three published titles to date - 'Out in the Cold', 'Into the Dark' and 'Run to Ground', all by London-based publisher Allison & Busby.
'I'm so thrilled to have been selected for the Writer's Room programme. A dedicated space to work, and in such inspiring surroundings is such a boon and I can't wait to get started.'

'I'm so grateful to the Writer's Room programme for this opportunity. I don't have a dedicated work space for my writing, and this is a huge privilege that will support me as I write the manuscript for my forthcoming book of nature essays.'

Alycia Pirmohamed

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Alycia is a published author whose poetry collection, 'Another Way to Split Water', came out in 2022. In 2023, she won the Nan Shepherd Prize for nature writers from underrepresented backgrounds and is working on a non-fiction essay title, 'A Beautiful and Vital Place,' which will be published with Canongate in 2026.

As a charity, we are extremely grateful to the City of Edinburgh Council as well as Amazon Literary Partnership for the funding for enabling us to offer a creative and nurturing space for Edinburgh writers, particularly those that might find it difficult in getting access to this kind of paid opportunity. We are also delighted to be partnering with the Society of Authors in Scotland, with the Writer's Room, to allow more writer input and focus. It's a place for writers to experiment and create work here in the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, and it's a marvellous way to acknowledge and celebrate our twenty years of being designated a UNESCO City of Literature, by offering this brilliant opportunity for the writers based here in the heart of the old town. We look forward to working with Alycia and Stuart in the coming months.

If you are a writer and would like to find out more about the Writer's Room programme then check out our webpage.